Spending Time

PeteWe have two golden retrievers who relish attention.  The other morning Duffy, the younger of the two, came over and indicated that he needed more attention, and seemed to say, “What better things do you have to do today than spend some time with me?”  I was busy being busy, and realized he was right, and furthermore, he was reminding me of what God asked earlier in the morning, “What better things do you have to do today than spend time with me?”  Yes, Josephine Victoria “Joy” Behar, both God and our dogs converse with me on a daily basis, and they make a heck of a lot more sense than you.

The best reason for us to spend time with God is to follow biblical examples.  In the Old Testament, we see God call prophets to come to Him.  Moses met with God alone at the burning bush and then on Mount Sinai.  David, whose many psalms reflect a confident familiarity with God, communed with Him while on the run from Saul.  God's presence passed by as Elijah was in the cave.  In the New Testament, Jesus spent time alone with God.  Jesus actually instructed us to pray to God alone at times, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen."  (Matthew 6:6)

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Are You the One?

"John the Baptist, having done exactly what God has wanted him to do, finds himself in prison and about to be beheaded.  He sends his disciples to ask Jesus, 'Are you the Messiah, or should we seek someone else?'"  Matthew 11:2-6

I used to think John was questioning Jesus.  However, he knows who Jesus is and he, John, knows he is about to die.  So, he sends his followers to Jesus to become disciples of Christ.  Jesus tells them, “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard.”  In other words, go back and tell John that you believe the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  Tell John that he has accomplished what God the Father had for him to do (Jeremiah 29).  Tell him that those who have been living in darkness now see the LIGHT, that those crippled by the enemy now walk in that Light, that those who were living in sin are now cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit, that those who refused to listen to the WORD are now living by it, and that those who were dead to the SPIRIT are now alive and are preaching the Good News.  Now John can die in Peace (John 16:33) and he knows that he has been blessed by God.  “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me” (v.6).  When we proclaim that we are followers of Christ, do we truly know how blessed we are, and that we can die in peace, or are we looking for something else?  Jesus has already done what He is going to do.  Like John the Baptist, those who are persecuted in this world for being followers of Jesus, yet do not turn away, shall be truly blessed.

On the Inside,

Pastor Pete

Is There Enough Evidence to Prove You Are Saved?

"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save them?"  James 2:14 NIV

This verse begins a controversial passage, one often misunderstood.  Here, James will begin to make the case that genuine faith in Christ results in genuine change in the actions of believers.  On the surface, it's really not such a radical idea.  Human beings tend to act on what we truly believe.  Those who believe God is right and good and powerful will most naturally obey Him.  Those who believe God has called them to meet the needs of others will most naturally look for ways to do that.

The controversy comes with what appears, at first glance, to be a contradiction with the teachings of Paul and the other New Testament writers.  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8–9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  James, on the other hand, seems to be questioning whether or not a person can be saved without works.

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What to Do for Christmas

I Googled “What to do for Christmas” and found 100 things.  Number 20 was go to church and 33 was make a nativity scene.  The other 98 had nothing to do with Christ.  How about you and me?  Are we going to do better than 2%?

Praying you have a Christ filled Christmas, and life,

Pete.

Giving to God

First let me thank Connie and Mike Skultety for their generous contribution of “Mums for Bibles”.  If you missed it, Connie and Mike grow the biggest and best mums around, and they donated the proceeds to our mission at the Hopkins County Jail.  Connie has been known to share her gift of growing mums with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, The Ballard Veterans’ Center, Hanson Elementary School, and the Boy Scouts of America.  Well done good and faithful servants!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The “Water People” are at it again.  Four of us are venturing back to the Yucatan November 27th thru December 2nd to covenant with another church, helping them to provide clean safe water for their village and surrounding communities. All of the LWW team will be soliciting your prayers and support for the 2018 LWW Mission Project.

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Our Body is Missing a Few Toes

I NEED YOUR HELP!

Paul told the Corinthians that the Body of Christ is made of many parts, each having a specific important role.  And he told the Romans we all do not have the same function, but each of us is vital to the life of the church.  He told the Ephesians that some are to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds, and some teachers.  He tells us that some will speak in foreign tongues, some will have knowledge and understand mysteries, and some will love us simply because we need love.  We are all important and are needed.

Our church vitality is not whole and is not functioning as it should.  We find fault in others’ service, yet we don’t participate.  How can those who do participate be 100% effective if the body is not whole?  Think about it.  If all 195 members of First Pres showed up, worshipped, and sang praise to the LORD, can you imagine what a visitor would say about our church?  Do you think he or she would be inspired to come again?  Can you imagine coming to church late and having to park across the street?  Can you imagine how much work we could accomplish toward our mission, "to know and make known," if every part was functioning as God intends?

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There Is No Fence

“How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell.  There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.”  Johnny Cash

Many a man, and woman, believe they can happily occupy a place somewhere between the world and the Word.  We believe we can come to church on Sunday and Wednesday, listen to the Word, and go back out there and live as if we have no obligation to the Lord.  We want to get all gussied up, shake hands with all our fellow congregants, sing praises and repeat psalms, and then go out and cuss, fuss, and shush.  Living large and in charge throughout the week and then humbling ourselves for an hour or two before going back out into the hustle and bustle.

Is it because we may have developed religious patterns and behavior without really experiencing change by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Have we found it socially advantageous to attend church and do church things without placing Jesus above all things?

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